The Gitcombe Estate, Devon.
by Jeremy Webb
Nestled in a beautiful, tranquil valley, the Gitcombe Estate is one of Devon’s delights. The five-star luxury Retreat property is the estate’s first new build and blends harmoniously with the existing Georgian buildings established when the site was a quarry.
Devon is one of England’s most beautiful counties, with its rolling hills and rugged coast-line, picture postcard villages and enchanting towns. The Gitcombe estate provides the ideal location to explore its charms or just to relax, enjoying its luxurious facilities and unspoiled surroundings. Gitcombe is a beautiful collection of luxury cottages of different sizes, each of them with its own unique personality. The site blends old with new very well. The preservation of the Georgian buildings was paramount to the O’Briens when they purchased the estate.
Peter O’Brien and his father Rodney own and work on the estate and both are very keen conservationists. They are very aware of the area’s protected status and work sympathetically with their surroundings. Materials used in the construction of the new Retreat and restoring the original buildings are all local and from sustainable sources. The O’Briens em-ployed award winning local firms to carryout the work.
Conscious of being in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Peter wanted a low visual impact so the Retreat is cut back into a hillside and cleverly blended with the landscape, allowing upstairs access and living area to take advantage of the views. The project is an example of hybrid construction, combining a green oak structural frame on the entry level, over a concrete block lower floor which is partially sunk into the ground. An oak-framed balcony was designed to wrap around two sides of the building, and a key part of the design brief was to embrace and capitalise on the far-reaching countryside views across a mosaic of pasture and woodland towards Dartmoor.
From the entry side, the property appears single-storey and barn-like, with few windows, but one gable end has been entirely glazed and the rear elevation is predominantly glass. “The glass and oak frame give it the wow factor, which was exactly what we wanted – something different that stands out,” says Peter.
The new Retreat provides large open living space upstairs, allowing guests to enjoy the glorious views over the countryside. There is a large en-suite bedroom on the upper floor adapted for the needs of anyone with disabilities.
All equipment in the cottage is of the highest quality, from the bespoke kitchen fitted with the latest Miele appliances to the underfloor heating throughout the property.
Three large bedrooms with Super King beds are located on the ground floor, two with en-suite walk-in showers, and the third with a sumptuous family bathroom fitted with a huge Ashton & Bentley bath. Robes and slippers for every guest await them in their beautiful bedrooms. All bedrooms boast fantastic views and access to the patio, where the hot tub is located.
The indoor pool and spa are superb with a large heated pool, steam room and sauna. Outside there is a large hot tub looking out across the valley. The Retreat building has its own hot tub with views out towards Dartmouth across lovely fields. Onsite, there is a large outdoor heated pool and tennis court, along with an adventure play area.
The charming town of Dartmouth is ten minutes away by car and Totnes just fifteen, with each famous street market happening every Friday.
There are plenty of activities available close to the properties. Two-hour surfing lessons with DiscoverySurf at Bigbury on Sea start at just £29. There is an antiques and food market in Kingsbridge every Saturday morning. Horse riding and quad biking can be arranged through the estate. Walking the valley is easy with many footpaths straddling the hills. Follow the river down the hill and you can reach the coast. Fishing is possible and the estate has equipment you can use.
Thanks to Peter and Emma at Gitcombe Estate for such a lovely stay.